Religion in the 21st Century?

This is a lecture series presented by Third Age Learning Lakehead (TALL), a partnership between the Office of Community Engagement and Lifelong Learning and the Third Age Network.

Speaker SeriesJan. 15 to Feb. 12, 2020Wednesday9:30 - 11:30 a.m.
Fee: $59 (plus hst)
Location:St. Paul's Centre, 62 Peter St. N., Orillia

Wednesday, January 15, 2020


“To See, To Be, To Do: The Landscape of World Religions”


Rather than a catalogue of dates and names, this talk explores the underlying, unspoken assumptions that structure the major religions, giving a sense of the overall topography. Through an insightful yet compact overview of the world’s major religious families, it will provide a very helpful map for understanding how major religious groups are related to each and how they compare and differ. The world of religion is immensely large – this first talk will be a tool to help us see the big picture.


Brian Carwana

Brian Carwana directs the Encounter World Religions Centre, an experiential educational organization that promotes religious literacy by fostering engagement with the people, places, practices and philosophies of the world's religions which has been designated a "Gift of Service to the World" by the Parliament of World Religions. Brian is also in the final stages of his PhD program at the University of Toronto.


Wednesday, January 22, 2020


“Reclaiming the Faith: Recognizing Christianity's Genuine Potential” 


Christianity has largely been represented in recent social discourse by a relatively small minority of conservatives, and Christians are often viewed as obsessed with single issues such as abortion or sexuality, as saying “no” rather than “yes.” As a result, the perception of the Christian faith in North America and much of Europe is frequently a negative one. This talk will reinterpret the Christian faith, and represent it in its genuine, vibrant, and liberating form.

Reverend Michael Coren

Rev. Michael Coren is an author, television and radio personality, columnist and speaker. He is the best-selling author of sixteen books including, most recently, Epiphany: A Christian’s Change of Heart & Mind over Same-Sex Marriage (2016) and Reclaiming Faith: Inclusion, Grace, and Tolerance (2019). Michael graduated from Trinity College, University of Toronto, in 2019 with an M.Div (honours).

Wednesday, January 29, 2020


A Changing Landscape: The Impact of Canada's New Religious Diversity”


A circus in a church? A new kind of nun (none)? Meditation for classroom calm? Canada's religious landscape is changing rapidly and its impact is being felt in social institutions, from hospitals to courtrooms, across our country. This talk will explore some of those changes and their social impact, addressing some of the pitfalls of Canada’s emergent religious diversity, as well as the potential of diversity, deep equality, and nonreligion.

Lori Beaman stands by the waterfront, a bridge can be seen in the background

Dr. Lori Beaman is the Canada Research Chair in Religious Diversity and Social Change, and a professor in the Department of Classics and Religious Studies at the University of Ottawa. She directed the Religion and Diversity Project (2010-2017) before turning to her current Nonreligion in a Complex Future Project, and she won the Canadian Society for the Study of Religion’s Book Prize for Deep Equality in an Era of Religious Diversity (2017).

Wednesday, February 5, 2020


The Meaning Crisis, Religio, and Religion in the 21st Century”


Western culture is experiencing a meaning crisis in which individuals feel disconnected from themselves, each other, and the world. Using cognitive science, this talk will explore the adaptive intelligence processes that enable us to appreciate the fundamental connectedness at the heart of the meaning in life – ‘religio’. How can the religion of the future more directly address the meaning crisis by cultivating wisdom and access to meaning, rather than promoting self-deception?

A man with glasses is pictured in front of a large windown

Dr. John Vervaeke is a psychology professor at the University of Toronto, where he is the Director of the Consciousness and Wisdom Studies Laboratory.  He is first author of the book Zombies in Western Culture: A 21st Century Crisis (2017), which integrates psychology and cognitive science to address the meaning crisis in Western society. He is also the author and presenter of the YouTube series, Awakening from the Meaning Crisis.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020


“Becoming a Religious Terrorist in Canada: Who, How and Why”


The New York City Police Department concluded that most of those involved in so-called homegrown jihadist terrorist attacks are “remarkably ordinary.” How then can we account for this extraordinary phenomenon, which continues to threaten our security in Europe, the United Kingdom, and North America? The talk will highlight key insights from 20 years of research into the process of radicalization leading to violence in the case of religiously-inspired forms of terrorism in Canada. 


Lorne Dawsone

Dr. Lorne L. Dawson is a professor in the Department of Sociology and Legal Studies, and the Department of Religious Studies, at the University of Waterloo. He is the co-founder and Director of the Canadian Network for Research on Terrorism, Security, and Society. He has published eight books and 77 academic articles and book chapters, and his latest book (co-edited with J. Littlewood and S. Thompson) is Terrorism and Counter Terrorism in Canada (2019).